"Colour Melting" Is a Temporary Way for Commitment-Phobes to Try Pastel Hair
What is it about a drastic hair transformation that feels so cathartic? There's a reason the "breakup haircut" is a real thing—as someone who promptly chopped six inches of my hair off after my first breakup, I can attest to its liberating and healing powers. You sit there and watch your hair fall to the floor with a sense of detached wonder; it feels like you're shedding your heartbreak along with your hair. But here's the thing about extreme haircuts: The grow-out process can be excruciatingly long. Nothing is worse than when you've finally moved on from your ex, but your hair is still stuck in the awkward mullet-like transition between a bob and lob, and there are receipts in the form of Facebook albums from summer 2010. Enter: Matrix's new "colour melting" technique, which is perfect for the heartbroken, commitment-phobic, and indecisive. A temporary, semi-permanent dye job that only lasts 10 to 20 shampoos, it's an easy way to experiment with your hair and/or express your inner angst over your former relationship without the commitment of a super-short haircut. Keep scrolling to find out how it works.
Colour melting is exactly what it sounds like: a gradual "melt effect" of one colour to the next. In other words, a subtler version of ombré that can involve every shade of the rainbow. But how do you achieve this effect? "If your hair is already pre-lightened or highlighted or a naturally lighter level, then you can do the colour-melt technique over the existing hair," explains celebrity hairstylist and Matrix ambassador George Papanikolas (he colours the strands of everyone from Madonna to Hailey Baldwin). In other words, if you're naturally a light blonde, you're good to go, and all the colourist needs to do is paint on the colour-melt shade of your choice. But if you're brunette like me, you'll need to lighten your strands first.
When I arrived at the salon, I had a vision of grey-blue ends in mind and showed George some inspiration photos. He then proceeded to tell me that in order to achieve the silvery-blue colour of my dreams, I'd basically need to bleach the majority of my strands and subsequently damage them—dreams dashed. But that's where colour melting comes in: Instead of taking me platinum then adding permanent pastel dye over my bleached hair, George suggested taking some of my faded highlights brighter, then adding semipermanent pastel dye over them. Sure, the final effect would be way subtler than what I had initially hoped for, but it would still appease my fervent desire for blue-tinged hair.
Plus, there's another benefit: "My preferred technique is to add balayage highlights, then apply the colour melt over it," explains George. "That way, once the colour fades, you end with a beautiful balayage until your next appointment." In other words, there's no need for additional touch-ups after your colour melt has faded, because you'll be left with a sun-kissed, natural-looking balayage.
The whole process took about three hours, and afterward, I was left with darker roots that "melted" into silvery-blue in the sunlight. You can colour melt with pretty much every colour of the rainbow—blondes can even colour melt with darker shades, which are essentially temporary lowlights. It's the perfect option when you want to experiment with colour for an event (cough, Coachella) or are just itching for a temporary change that won't permanently damage your hair. If you love your colour-melted hair so much and want to prolong it past the 10 to 20 shampoos it promises, Papanikolas says you can use gentle, pH-balanced shampoo and conditioner like Matrix's Biolage ColorLast. Or ask your colourist to go a little more intense or brighter with the colour, knowing it will gradually fade. "The more pastel the tones, the more quickly they will fade," he explains. Though the final effect will be subtler than a full-on pastel dye job, I can attest that it's just enough for you to leave the salon feeling like a new woman—exes be damned.
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